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Finances On Separation

Finances upon breakdown of cohabitation

“If you don’t have a wedding, you aren’t married!”

It is a common misconception that there is such a thing as a “common law” husband or wife in England and Wales. This is simply not the case. Couples who live together and are unmarried do not acquire the same legal rights as married couples, no matter how long they may live together. This comes as a surprise to most people but within England and Wales “common law” marriage just doesn’t exist. This is different from Scotland, for example, where couples can claim financial compensation if the relationship that has broken down has financially disadvantaged them.

When a relationship is breaking down it is often a very difficult time for all involved. This is why it is very important to get expert legal advice as soon as possible. Austin Kemp has a team of experienced solicitors who will guide you through the process from start to finish and particularly specialise in high net worth individuals who have investments and assets internationally. We can even advise and guide you through international court systems if you have a dispute over interests in a property abroad.

Developments in case law mean that interests in property can be very uncertain in unmarried couples. In the case of a dispute when an unmarried couple break up, the law says that each party should keep assets in their own name. However, it is often not that simple. One party may claim that he or she is part owner of property registered in the other’s name.

Austin Kemp are used to dealing with highly complex and specialist cohabitation cases with disputes over property and assets large and small. Our solicitors will make sure you have all the facts on your cohabitation issues before you make any decisions. We also will make sure you are well informed in this constantly changing and evolving area of law.

Even if you have not yet separated from your partner but are thinking of doing so, or you believe your partner is thinking of leaving you, it is important to obtain legal advice in order to fully understand your rights. We strongly advise that you seek legal advice before starting to separate financially as starting to separate financially without the correct legal advice can complicate matters further.

In order to establish a financial interest in a property, where your beneficial interests have not been expressly declared e.g. through a declaration of trust or a cohabitation agreement, you would need to make an application to the court under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 for a declaration of beneficial interests and possibly, further down the line, an order for sale. The court could find either a resulting trust or a constructive trust. Even if these are not present there can be other property rights instead. There is no simple way to explain these as they are very case specific. There is no set timescale for this process and it typically depends on how complex your particular case is.

There is no specific area of law designed for cohabiting couples. This means that this area of law can be highly complex. Austin Kemp can help you make the right decisions by providing you with specialist advice from one of our expert solicitors.


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